Nova Scotia

Halifax's designated smoking area receptacles taking a beating

Smoking is bad for one's health, but being a butt receptacle isn't easy either. Since they were first installed almost 10 months ago, almost two-thirds of them have had to be replaced or cannibalized for parts.

Of the 120 deployed, two-thirds have been replaced or salvaged for spare parts

Of the 120 smoking receptacles installed last year on city property, sidewalks, in parks or near bus shelters, 80 have been replaced or used for spare parts to fix broken ones. (Jean Laroche/CBC)

It's unclear who's doing it or why, but the receptacles Halifax bought for its designated smoking areas are taking a beating.

The city made using the designated areas and receptacles mandatory beginning last Oct. 15 to coincide with the legalization of cannabis.

Of the 120 installed on city property, sidewalks, in parks or near bus shelters, 80 have been replaced or used for spare parts to fix broken ones during the past nine months.

"It's hard to say exactly how big a problem it is, it's our first year," said city spokesperson Brendan Elliott. "We really don't have anything to compare it to."

"Certainly, there has been vandalism."

This smoking receptacle at Granville Mall in Halifax has been turned into a table, thanks to the addition of a paving stone on the top. (Jean Laroche/CBC)

The city originally purchased 600 receptacles for roughly $200 each — a total of $120,000. The 80 that were vandalized or needed to fix other broken ones represents a $16,000 loss. Four hundred remain in storage.

Elliott said it's not clear why the receptacles have received so much damage.

"We bought a lot in order to be ready, in case there was vandalism or [we] just needed new locations throughout the municipality," he said.

Making sure the receptacles were in proper working order and that they were regularly emptied also turned out to be a problem.

'More than they could chew'

"Our staff that are fixing and replacing other municipal property recognized that this was more than they could chew," said Elliott.

That's why the city awarded a contract to Sotiris Enterprises Ltd. on June 18. The company outbid five other firms, which bid between $42,000 and $144,000 to dispose of contents from the receptacles and clean them.

Although expensive and labour intensive, Elliott said the city is not rethinking the value of having designated smoking areas and receptacles.

The lid for this smoking receptacle isn't fastened in place properly. (Jean Laroche/CBC)

"We've received direction from council to ensure that there are adequate smoking areas available for people to use and these receptacles appear to be working," he said.

"There's no indication at all, from our perspective, that these need to be either replaced and use a different kind or just abandon the project altogether."

The city also has an agreement with Mississagua-based Sexauer Ltd. to supply the city with up to 1,650 more receptacles between May 31, 2020, and May 31, 2022.

Halifax Regional Police spokesperson Const. John MacLeod said since the bylaw came into effect, only five people have been issued tickets for not using the 83 designated smoking areas in the city.

Another 37 smoking receptacles are found on city property.

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